chapter  10
20 Pages

Water and an Israeli–Palestinian Peace Settlement

Recent Near East peace negotiations have focused attention on growing water scarcity in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. The region's sustainable water endowment appears inadequate to support current levels of water usage and is grossly insufficient to meet projected future requirements. It has been suggested that this shortage could pose a serious complication for the Near East peace talks and may even lead to renewed warfare. Joyce Starr, Chairwoman of the Global Water Summit Initiative, recently predicted that "water security will soon rank with military security in the war rooms of defense ministries.'" In a similar vein, Thomas Naff has warned that the Near East's water scarcity is likely to lead to "internal civil disorder, changes in regime, political radicalization and instability.,,2

Foreign analysts are not alone in voicing their concerns. Palestinians frequently complain that Israel, in addition to stealing land, is illegally expropriating water. Many Israelis also have voiced concern over so-called "water security." Recently, the former Minister of Agriculture, Rafael Eitan, published full-page advertisements in all major Israeli newspapers, claiming that security would be endangered if

Israel ever relinquished physical control of the West Bank. Rather than mentioning the usual arguments regarding strategic depth and the likelihood of terrorism, the advertisements concentrated on the threat that the Palestinians, either through mismanagement or malevolence, might over pump aquifers underlying both Israel and the West Bank. These aquifers supply 25% ofIsrael's water.